Two philanthropic powerhouses—New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Human Rights Campaign—announced donations of hundreds of millions of dollars to advocates for marriage equality in Maryland on Friday.
Bloomberg, known for his support of socially progressive causes, gave $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the statewide coalition supporting the state’s law allowing same-sex marriage.
Maryland’s state legislature passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act and Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Baltimore Democrat, signed it into law last February. Opponents of marriage equality, however, earned enough signatures to place the law on November’s ballot as “Question 6.”
Question 6 states the Civil Marriage Protection Act “[e]stablishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”
Voters will be asked to vote for or against the referred law.
“I do not believe that government has any business telling one class of couples that they cannot marry. The 14th Amendment guarantees us all equal protection under the law, and that’s what Question 6 does — it treats all citizens equally under the law, while protecting religious liberty at the same time,” Bloomberg wrote in a letter to Question 6 supporters. “The next great barrier to full equality under the law is marriage equality. There is no doubt in my mind this barrier will fall, just as so many others have.”
The Human Rights Campaign also announced its donation of an additional $1 million to marriage equality groups in Maryland, Washington, Maine and Minnesota, the four states where same-sex marriage laws will appear as voter referenda next month. The cash infusion brings HRC’s total donation to the marriage equality fight in those four states to $4.4 million; the group’s overall layout for the 2012 election equals $7.3 million.